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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Florida adds quartet of blue-chip defensive recruits

Head coach Billy Napier bolstered the trenches with four defensive commits

<p>Florida football coach Billy Napier greets fans during his first day on the job Dec. 5, 2021 in Gainesville.</p>

Florida football coach Billy Napier greets fans during his first day on the job Dec. 5, 2021 in Gainesville.

Florida football head coach Billy Napier and his staff made huge strides in recruiting this weekend, sending shockwaves through the college football world.

A flurry of top-end defensive commits announced their pledges to the Gators on social media over the weekend.

On Saturday, Florida landed 2023 four-star linemen Kelby Collins and Will Norman. 

Collins, a native of Gardendale, Alabama, is the 70th ranked player in the 247Sports composite rankings, and he is the highest rated player in the Gators’ 2023 class so far. He’s an imposing presence at 6-foot-5, 258 lbs and will bring pass rushing prowess to Florida’s front seven.

Norman is another formidable force, hailing from Camden, New Jersey, but playing at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. He’s a massive figure at 6-foot-5, 290 lbs and is ranked 143rd in the 247Sports composite rankings. He’ll likely be a key figure in the middle of Florida’s defensive line over the next three to four years.

Following Saturday’s splash additions, the Gators kept the momentum going with another defensive line commitment Sunday.

Four-star Kamran James, like Collins and Graham, is a physically impressive prospect on the defensive line. He stands at 6-foot-6, 265 lbs and is  seen as a high-upside pass rusher who can get after opposing quarterbacks. 

All three linemen, whose recruitment was led by Florida defensive line coach Sean Spencer, continue a recent trend of the Gators recruiting local talent. Seventeen of Florida’s 20 2023 commits play high school football in the Sunshine State and all 20 players attend schools within 500 miles of Gainesville. 

Florida’s 2023 recruiting class is now ranked 10th in the country according to 247Sports. The resurgence is a welcome sight to Florida fans and UF still has potential to climb further up the rankings. Highly sought after players, like Lakeland High School cornerback Cormani McClain, still remain on the board for Napier and company. 

In addition to the three 2023 pledges, the Gators earned their first class of 2024 commitment from linebacker Myles Graham, who is currently ranked 52nd in the 247Sports composite rankings and is the No. 2 linebacker in his class.

Graham is a Florida legacy. His father Earnest Graham was an All-SEC running back for the Gators from 1998-2002. Earnest then went on to play in the National Football League for eight seasons.

Florida’s momentum on the recruitment trail under Napier’s staff is now at an all time high and the surge coincides with the final few weeks of fall camp. The Gators will take the field inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium Sept. 3 when they host the Utah Utes in a heavyweight bout to open the 2022 campaign. 

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Topher Adams

Topher Adams is a fourth-year communications major and in his fourth semester with the Alligator. He previously covered football, baseball and women's basketball. He also enjoys professional lacrosse and Major League Soccer.

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